Margaret came to be my aunt by being my Mother’s best friend – the aunt of our hearts. Together, my mother and father took their younger friend under their wings, and while Dad was away in Korea, Nancy and Margaret would ride the Pacific Electric Railway (red car) streetcars to the Rendezvous Ballroom or the Waterside Pavilion for dances, working together at Oxidental, and eventually at National Life Insurance Company. Sharing lives; through pregnancies, babies, trips to Vegas with their husbands, and later just the girls. Decades of stories, shared tears through tragic losses, and support. This is what a life long friendship looks like.
Orn,” defined as ornament, to adorn.” Orn is my Aunt Margaret’s maiden name. To be with her is to be adorned with appreciation, laughter, deep Love, and fun.
My earliest memory is of Uncle Roman and Aunt Margaret’s exotic home. Exotic because all I can recall of the home is it had some kind of lava rock project in progress, and a high porthole shaped window near the front door. The street had mature trees lining each side, and I felt it wouldn’t be a good street to fly a kite. Then they moved to Hacienda Heights, and my parents soon followed.
Steven, the only child of the Martinez’ young family wanted a baby brother, badly. He wished and prayed, and although his parents felt they were done adding to their parental responsibilities, Steven declared he was going to received a baby brother for his birthday, determined, he would will it so. Surprisingly, Margaret became pregnant. The day she and Roman returned home from the hospital, Steven all bathed and dressed up in his his Sunday best, clip-on tie and all, sitting perfectly poised, ready to receive and hold his birthday present, they walked through the door and handed him his heart’s desire, Steven proclaiming “I knew God would send me a baby brother”. Coincidence, or the power of a child’s prayer, Michael came home to be greeted by his older brother on Steven’s 7th birthday May 4th.
My mother and Aunt Margaret would take us kids on quick summer trips to different beach locations; once renting a second story wooden apartment near P.O.P., there I rode my first big all wooden roller coaster, which was too much for me. I also held a kitten for the first time, which gave me ringworm. Much, much later, after getting my driver’s license, I drove to Ocean Side to meet my aunt, her boys & nephew, spending a few days at a beach house she rented. Little Leo following me around like a protective puppy making sure I didn’t get myself into any boy crazy trouble.
One of my favorite ease dropping stories was when over hearing her and my mother giggling about some party; New Years possibly, or Vegas, or one of my Dad’s gigs, but clearly some indulging of alcohol had been a part of the evening. So vivid a memory I have of Aunt Margaret telling my mother that when she crawled into bed the last thing she remembered was peeling her flash eyelashes off and sticking them to the side of the mattress. When she woke up there they were still stuck, looking up at her. I still laugh when I envision this, and whenever I happen to see playful VW bug owners who buy & put those enormous eyelashes above their car headlights I think of her. Such a fun synchronism as Aunt Margaret just so happens to whip around in her own canary yellow Volkswagon, blasting Black Sabbath and other classic rock tunes going just a tad over the speed limit.
We’ve had many shared stories at that kitchen table on Beech Hill Ave. remembering Steven at his Pizza job, or when I got talked into taking him and my sister, because I was the only one with a driver’s license, to the haunted house near Walnut. It wasn’t the first time I was so frightened I squeezed his hand blue. Or, stories of my Dad. She often says how much I am like him. Now we remember my Mother together. Her best, yet flawed, friend; The matriarch, the conduit, our social butterfly that brought us all together, and we choose to continue on and Love as family, because we are.